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Let Robert Griffin III Grow

RGIII is learning to be an NFL QB for (basically) the first time in his career. No one should expect perfection by week two of the preseason.

Robert Griffin III gets coached up by Jay Gruden
Robert Griffin III gets coached up by Jay Gruden
Rob Carr

Get to shelter quickly. Call your loved ones, make sure they're taking cover, too. Take what you can carry; leave the rest. You won't need it much longer, anyway. All you can do now is hope for a miracle. The sky is falling; Earth is crumbling down.

That's what happens when Robert Griffin III throws an interception in the preseason, right? The world ends? It's all over? If not, Jason Reid and a few other Washington Redskins beat reporters are doing a hell of a job convincing the public otherwise.

Let's get the obvious out of the way first: the interception was horrendous. Not only was it a bad decision, it was a late one, and Joe Haden could have probably made that play in his sleep. He also threw the ball all-arm. Anyone who has watched RGIII for an extended period knows his footwork is an issue, and it popped up again here. There was nothing positive to take from this play as a Redskins fan.

But how quickly we forget that Griffin III is still very much learning how to throw the football from the pocket. Developing him was something that Mike and Kyle Shanahan tried to avoid during their tenure in Washington, instead opting to run read options and bootlegs to utilize RGIII's mobility. There's nothing inherently wrong with doing so, but when you completely ignore the development process, this is the result: a third-year QB who is just now learning things that most learn during their rookie years (by the way: it seems that Kyle Shanahan is going to take Johnny Manziel down a similar path, based on the plays he ran on Monday night).

And besides the interception, there wasn't much "bad" that I saw against Cleveland, at least as a passer. As ESPN's John Keim noted in his RGIII column, the way he looked off/pump faked the safety on the 49-yard pass to Andre Roberts was beautiful, as was the pass itself. He went through all his progressions on DeSean Jackson's first catch. He threw an accurate ball to Darrell Young with heavy pressure in his face. He led Jordan Reed down the middle of the field so the tight end could rack up some YAC.

Those are all things he struggled with last season. He's already much better. And it's clear that at least some of 2013's issues stemmed from the brace he wore. Griffin looked more comfortable running (and playing football in general) against Cleveland than he did at any point last year.

Decision-making is absolutely still an issue, particularly with getting down/out-of-bounds. But even in this area, he has taken small steps forward. Yes, he took a malachi crunch on the sideline on one run, and slid (if you can call that maneuver a slide) awkwardly on another. But his final slide attempt was much better, and there was one play where he looked to run, then decided against it and dumped off a pass to Roy Helu, Jr., which was dropped. He also promised on Twitter after the game to keep working on protecting himself. Instincts take time to course correct. People have been clamoring for him to work on self-safety for three years, but this is the first time I get the sense Griffin means it when he says he'll work to fix it. It's something worth monitoring over the course of the season, but I'm willing to bet that Griffin implements changes to his game sooner than later.

He opted to run when a checkdown was available, once. People really disliked that, and the anger is understandable in a sense. The checkdown was the safer play. But so what if Griffin's not perfect? Nobody is, especially in the preseason. People have unrealistic expectations for Griffin, in part because of how electric he was in his rookie 2012 campaign. No one can fully develop in a single offseason, especially when having to learn a brand-new offense at the same time. But it certainly seems as though he's taken visible strides forward in multiple areas, it just requires looking past one or two mistakes to see it. Give Gruden's tutelage time to fully take hold. RGIII will be better for it, and so will the Redskins.

It's safe to leave your basements, now. The sky isn't falling just yet.